If you have been to any audio shows in the last few years or if you read show reports then you have seen the room with all the bling in it. Even after so many shows when I walk in the TriangleART room I am always overwhelmed by all the chrome; the other thing that always comes to mind is mass! Looking at the Symphony, the subject of this review, you can’t miss the chrome, but I would have never thought they could hide so much mass in such a small package. I should mention the chroming process results in a perfect, flawless mirrored finish.
But I don’t want to be misunderstood: TriangleARTs are not all the bling. In my awards for the 2014 California Audio Show I said:
“Music First Audio teamed up with TriangleART and Audio Note UK to produce the best sound I have heard from a pair of Audio Note E’s at a show, and that includes the Audio Note Level 5 system that was at the California show last year. . . . If I had to pick a complete system from what I heard at the show, this would have surely been it for me. It blended the best of the modern and vintage sound of other systems. It had plenty of tone, good harmonics, great dynamics and micro-dynamics. It sounded very alive and was a lot of fun to listen to music on. Still, it was transparent, imaged more than well enough to suit me, and had a very nice soundstage. By the way, the buzz in the hall outside their door was how great it sounded. Well done to all who put this room together.”
Description and Set Up
The turntable arrived in a large reinforced wooden crate/pallet. This combination sets the benchmark in my opinion, for how heavy audio equipment should be shipped. As I unpacked the ‘table, I became even more impressed with the packing. Each massive component of the turntable was separately wrapped and packaged. There was layer upon layer of thick packing material mode to fit each component. I have included pictures and this much space about packing because shipping is the most frightening part of our hobby.
My review sample came with the Jelco SA750 tonearm and TriangleART Zeus MC. It also came with the motor controller and the record clamp. It’s not really plug and play, but if you can drop the tonearm in the prepared mount and set up a cartridge, this is a very simple table to set up. The hardest thing about it for me was how heavy it was. All-in-all, it was very simple to set up.
The Symphony and Jelco SA 750 replaced my AMG V12 turntable and , but my system otherwise remained the same: Teresonic Ingenium XR speakers, Pass Labs XA30.8 Class A stereo amp, Soundsmith SG-220 Stain-Gauge Cartridge system, Emia Remote Autoformer, A.R.T. Low Frequency Extension, all hooked up with High Fidelity Cables Ultimate Reference cables. The High Fidelity power cables were plugged into the HB Cable Design PowerSlave Marble.
I tried the Symphony directly on my Box Furniture Company D3S Audio Rack and on my HRS M3X platform. As massive as the Symphony is, I still found it unraveled complex passages better on the HRS. It also had better detail, a wider soundstage and better dynamics sitting on the HRS. This wasn’t a big surprise to me. So far every table I have had in house sounds better sitting on the HRS platform.
My whole room and system are tuned for the balance of my Soundsmith Strain Gauge and my Teresonic Ingenium XR-Silver speakers. So, as good as the TriangleArt Zeus MC cartridge is I did most of my listening with the Soundsmith Strain Gauge. (I will separately review the TriangleART Zeus MC cartridge in the near future, so stay tuned.)
I kept having to remind myself throughout my listening time that this turntable cost $9,000 less than my AMG V12, and half the price of the Thales TTT-Slim I had just finished reviewing. In many ways, the sound of the Symphony falls directly between these two tables. It has a much richer tone than the Thales and still is very explosive and dynamic. These rich tones make the music sound more like live music and less like an audio system. They were never so rich, though, as to be considered dark in any sense of the word.
The TriangleART Symphony is equally impressive when playing both big and bold or small and intimate recordings. When listening to Cat Stevens perform “Morning Has Broken,” the soundstage was just right, and the instruments burst from a wide-open acoustic space. The amount of air around the instruments and Cat Steven’s voice seemed very natural. This a recording I have listened to for over 40 years, and I have never heard it sound better.
Moving to a recording of a really big sound like Duke Ellington’s “Blues In Orbit,” the Symphony played it with size and boldness. It didn’t allow me to hear quite the layering of the instruments as the AMG, but it is better than most turntables I have heard. On big band, symphonic or rock music, it is very important that the music has real drive. This is an area where many belts drive turntables struggle when compared to direct drive or idler drive turntables. The only belt drive turntable I have heard that can match an idler in this area is the AMG V12 and then only on the HRS platform. The TriangleART Symphony turntable is much better than most belt drive turntables, though still not in the league with a great idler like the Shindo 301. It is very dynamic and capable of having quite a wow! factor. I felt it played the Ellington LP better than most belt drive turntable I have heard at any price and nothing I know of in its price range comes close.
When it comes to small acoustic music, the belt drive turntables come into their area of superiority. The Opus 3 LP River Road is one of the best acoustical recordings I have heard, with Eric Bibb and Bert Deivert bringing a great album of duets. It’s amazing how Jan-Eric Pearson of Opus 3 get such a full, but delicate they-are-in-the-room with you sound on this recording. I’ve used the title cut of this LP for years to help set up turntables, but most of all I have listened to it for the last 30 something years because of how much I enjoy it. The Symphony played this music with great realism, beautiful detail and real space.
While I’m talking about spinning tunes, let me share with you how the 45rpm version of “Ella and Louis.” On this LP, there are places where Satchmo’s trumpet starts to get really loud, and if the system is doing its job it gets really loud without any glare. The TriangleART Symphony did a good job with this while still having good bite. Ella’s voice sounded alive and soulful. The Symphony ‘table allowed this recording to sound very lifelike. This is a quality that is very difficult to put into words. It’s about how music flows effortlessly, how natural it sounds, and how pretty the piano sounds.
A Few Audiophile Points
Transparency is a priority to me when evaluating gear. This was an area where the TriangleART Symphony held its own with turntables that cost more than twice as much. With the Symphony turntable in my system, I was able to hear the details of a recording with a sense of ease and relaxation. Plucked strings, fingering work, as well as bowed strings, all came through in a visceral and emotionally satisfying manner. It let me hear the breath of the singer, the air in and around instruments and a lot of the hall.
PraT, Drive, and Dynamics
The Symphony was superb in each of the areas. It may not be quite as good as the very best rim-driven tables I have heard, but I think it is superior to any spring-suspension table I have heard. It had plenty of these abilities to have the natural drive of live music, and its pace and rhythm let you get emotionally involved in the music.
Both the deep and mid bass are areas where the TriangleART Symphony is much better than one might think, given its price point. The bass was quick enough to provide good rhythm and powerful enough not to make me feel like I was ever missing bass. With the Symphony, I got both quality and quantity when it came to bass. By quality, I mean bass that breathes, bass that lets you hear the air, and the wood bodies of cellos. By quantity I mean that I didn’t just get tight, well-defined bass; I also get to hear the nuances, timbers, and rhythm of real instruments. Now there are turntables at more than twice this price that can do some of these things better, but not a ton better.
Soundstage and Scale
Music played on the Symphony was able to achieve a nice organic, cohesive soundstage. At the same time, it had excellent width, depth and height. The table is equally good at producing a realistic scale regarding an individual instrument, a whole ensemble, or even a whole orchestra. It portrays music correctly, huge or small, if your amp and speakers are up to it. When you combine its ability to provide a soundstage with this correct sense of scale along with the natural air and ambiance, one gets a really wonderful sense of what stereo was supposed to be all about.
The TriangleART Symphony produced deep, rich, powerful, bass without any overhang and at the same time the music came across as being lively with plenty of swing and presence that make listening to music a lot of fun. These are rare traits in any source component. Yes, there are some that do some of the things better, and a rare few that do both better, but I don’t know of any without spending far more money.
The hardest thing about this review was bearing in mind that it wasn’t fair to be continually comparing it with turntables that cost a minimum of twice as much. What I’m trying to say is that the TriangleART Symphony Turntable is a very fine turntable indeed.
Copy editor: Laurence A. Borden
- (Page 1 of 1)